The Crazy and Shameful Story of the 2011 School Budget Battle

What has happened this year with Westfield's school budget is nothing short of a travesty. It's a complicated story but it all basically boils down to our city councilors provoking an unnecessary war with our teachers when, against the advice of the mayor and the school superintendent, they slashed the school budget by $864,345. According to city officials, the budget cut will result in layoffs which will drive up Westfield's unemployment costs by $930,000 which will result in a $1.8 million total reduction to the school's budget this year. This comes on top of an earlier $600,000 budget cut which has already resulted in a reduction of 24 school department personnel announced earlier this year.

Learn more about the events that led up to the current budget crisis.
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What's even more outrageous is that the city councilor's failed to think through a proper exit strategy and there is question right now as to how the money can be brought back into the budget. It seems politics and the City Council's desire to "play hardball" with teachers will do absolutely no good and only bring great harm to our school system. It's a huge political blunder on the part of the City Councilors who let politics, not the welfare of our school system, guide their decisions. Channel 40 did a story about this mess which you can watch here.

TV 40 Coverage

As it stands right now, the city is looking at additional reductions in teacher and other school staff positions. According to school superintendent Shirley Alvira, this is going to mean:

  • A closing of Juniper Park School (that means larger class sizes for all other schools)
  • Funding cuts for all art and music instruction across all schools
  • Firing all librarians at the middle and high school level
  • Firing twelve guidance counselors, athletic coaches, and trainers throughout the city

Pink slips have already gone out. This is a very dire and serious situation for the City of Westfield, its school department workers, and above all, it's children.

As a new organization to the scene, one of SWS's first tests will be to see how we can build a strong coalition to keep pressure on city councilors to clean up their mess and hopefully restore the funding. But we need your help. Please join our coalition so you can make an important difference in your community!